Exeter library

Brief description

A compressed timeline:

1909 – grant offered
1911 – grant accepted and new library announced
1917 – scheme reconsidered due to WW1
1921 – returned to idea, funding still available
1924 – council agreed planning could start
1928 – foundation stone laid
1930 – new library opened

Then, 1942 – library bombed and burned out – but restored after the war
1950s – building housed Devon Records Office
1965 – new library built next door
Early 2000s – became registry office
2010 – refurbished: upper floors became student flats, ground floor rented to firm of solicitors

  • Year grant given: 1911
  • Amount of grant:
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 1930

Photo of library today:



I’ve visited Exeter library several times – in 2015 and 2016.

Web links:

Exeter Memories (which contains a lot more detail on the timeline above)

Nottingham Meadows library

Brief description

This was originally known as Southern Branch. The architect was Arthur Dale.

Current status: Library – part of Nottingham City Council library network (2021)

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant:
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 11 March 1925, by the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine

Photo of library in 2016:





Visited on May 31 2016. It was really busy, as it was half term week, and the Friends group was running a session with a childrens entertainer. The library is lovely and bright, and the garden out back (also maintained by the Friends group) is a valuable asset.

Crofton Park library

Brief description

Crofton Park Library was originally known as Brockley Branch Library.
Its architect was Alfred L Guy, ARIBA, and it was constructed by F J Gortham of Greenwich. The building sustained damage when the neighbouring Crofton Park Station was bombed in 1940 and 1945, losing two glass dome skylights and the leaded glass in the ground floor windows. The library was refurbished in 1959-60. The library building has been given local listing by Lewisham Borough Council, which describes it as making “a handsome contribution towards the streetscape”. [wikipedia]

Current status: Since 2011 this library has been run by volunteers, and the building is run by Eco Communities (along with the libraries in Grove Park and Sydenham – the latter is also a carnegie library). Books and the library management system are provided by Lewisham Council.

  • Year grant given (if known): 1902
  • Amount of grant: £9,000 provided to build Sydenham and Crofton Park
  • Year opened:October 1905

Photo of library today:



Visited on Saturday 3 July 2016 – and had a cup of tea in their cafe.

Plumstead library

Brief description

This building, designed by Frank Sumner, borough engineer, is on Plumstead High Street.

Grade II Listing was awarded in 2016.

From the listing entry: “The library was originally laid out with the reading room in the very well-lit north-east room, the newspapers and magazines in the large north-west room, and the adult lending library was held in the south-west, with a book store, offices, and a ‘music, art and study room’ partitioned off opposite. The issue desk was positioned at the entrance to the lending library. Evidence exists to suggest the library may originally have operated on a closed access system. The first-floor museum was opened in 1919.”

Current status: Still operating as a public library. Although when it was opened it was in the London Borough of Woolwich, it is now situated in Greenwich, and run by GLL.

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant: £15,250
  • Year opened: Opened by the Right Honourable John Morley MP on 17 December 1904

Photo of library today:




Old photo of library (postcard):

[to be scanned]


I visited on a Saturday (2 July 2016) and the library was open and fairly busy. Virtually all the public computer terminals were in use and there were a couple of families in the children’s section.

Web links:

The start of a long project

Here we go!

I’ve been collecting information about libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie for many years and blogged about it on one of my other sites). First by painstaking scanning through indexes and borrowing books from libraries, then as more became available on the internet, my small collection of notes and postcards has become a large and fairly unwieldy.

As many have reached their centenary year, there is a lot more information to discover, as libraries produce celebratory booklets and there is coverage in local newspapers.

In many cases a 100 year old building is no longer the right space to host a modern public library. If the original carnegie building is still in use as a library, it is interesting to chart the changes that have been made. However, if the decision has been made to close it, its equally interesting to see the new uses to which they are put. There are not as many ‘rescue’ projects as you see in countries where 100 year old buildings are unusual  – in many US towns the carnegie library may have been the first stone or brick built structure and there are fascinating projects where the whole building has been moved to a new location – but there are many which are now art galleries, museums, or even have been converted to residential use.

Through this site I’ll chart the Carnegie legacy – primarily in England, but also those libraries I’ve visited in other countries.